Third Cello Sonata
Thanks to the tireless advocacy of the pianist Simon Callaghan, the music of the Derbyshire-born Roger Sacheverell Coke has started to emerge from the obscurity in which it has languished since the composer’s death in 1972. Despite showing considerable early promise, Coke remained an outsider in British musical life. His three cello sonatas frame the years 1936 to 1941 a very productive period in Coke’s life. Composed towards the end of 1941, the third sonata was ‘affectionately dedicated to Kinkie Halswell’, an individual whose identity remains unknown. The sonata represents a further stage in Coke’s musical development, not least in the ambitious first movement. Exhibiting a stronger adherence to sonata form than its two predecessors, the movement explores new sound worlds with complex thematic material, muscular piano writing, fervent cello lines, and rapid shifts of mood and tempo, with periods of mysterious sotto voce fragmentation. The overriding tone is one of alienation and instability, the minor key in the ascendant until an unexpected shift to A major brings the movement to a surprisingly optimistic conclusion.